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Researching Programs: An Introduction

Summary:

This section details what to look for in a graduate program--both on a personal and professional level. Personally, you need to consider location, community, campus culture, and other non-academic issues that will affect your happiness. Professionally, you need to figure out your research interest, map the field, research the faculty you’ll be working with, understand your funding package, calculate work requirements, and analyze research resources.   

Contributors:Adryan Glasgow
Last Edited: 2012-09-26 12:48:45

When selecting an undergraduate program, students often consider such factors as location, cost, campus culture, availability of majors, tradition, and the school's general reputation. While these are all important considerations, the decision of which graduate program to attend requires that you ask more complicated questions. Choosing a graduate program is not merely a question of where and how you want to spend the next two to ten years of your life; it is also a choice of how you will establish your professional networks, what area(s) of expertise you will have, and what research resources you will have access to.

This resource provides a guide of what to look for and what to consider when selecting a graduate program. It starts with outlining some of the pragmatic considerations that may affect whether or not you will be able to complete your degree. A degree may open the door, but what is learned while earning that degree is what defines a professional.  One needs to know not only what they want to specialize in, but also where that specific subset fits into the larger body of scholarship in a particular field. Finally, this resource explores how to write up profiles of the important faculty in a program to which one might apply. We suggest creating written profiles, because trying to keep it all in your head would be overwhelming. However, the more one understands how each of these factors might impact their future, both in the short term and in the long term, the better equipped they will be to choose the right program. 

Please note, that these resources focus on applying to graduate studies programs in the United States. The information contained in these resources may or may not be appropriate to other contexts. 

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